Category Archives: Read All About It!

Another Wichitan on the Appalachian Trail

Megan Taylor shared this photo from her recently completed hike along the Appalachian Trail. Rayana Adra, another Wichita native, is currently about 1,700 miles into the 2,100-plus mile hike from Georgia to Maine. COURTESY PHOTO

Sunday’s Wichita Eagle ran a sizable feature on Megan Taylor, a native daughter who just finished the 2,100-plus mile Appalachian Trail. YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ THE STORY, AND LOOK AT THE ABOUT 50 GREAT PHOTOS TAYLOR SHARED.

It turns out another young female Wichitan is currently on the trail, having already logged about 1,700 miles since she began her hike in Georgia this spring.

I got an e-mail from Jeremiah Griffith, telling me about 27-year-old Rayana Adra, a Northeast Magnet High and University of Kansas graduate. (Rock Chalk, Rayana, be sure you’re done by the start of basketball season!)

Griffith sent me a link to an impressive blog Adra is keeping of her hiking and experience. It is very good reading. As well as what she’s seeing along the trail and the people she’s meeting, Adra writes about what the long trek is doing to her mind and body.


Spend some time there, you won’t be sorry.

Mastery of the art of fishing, rod building, writing and photography

Do me a favor, and yourself as well, and read what I’ve attached to the link a few lines down.

It’s fairly long, but whatever you think you have to get done can wait. The story is moving, the writing masterful and the photography better than artistic paintings.

Dang, I wish I could do anything as well.

It’s an ESPN story about one of the finest custom fly rod makers in the world, despite the little fact that he’s largely paralyzed about from the neck down.

Those of you who fly fish will admire the man for his craft, and how well he understands our way of life.

Those of  you who don’t, may get a hint of why some otherwise sane people become so insane about things like taper, weight, tips, tippets and finding the perfect fly.

So, pour a fresh cup of coffee, grab another can of Coke or pop the top of a a favored beer and enjoy.


Sometimes “your” just wrong….

I’m guessing somebody had some e’splaining to do when a number of these signs were noticed at Kaw Point Park, in Kansas City, Kansas.


Obviously “Smile, you’re on camera” was their intent.


It’s not an uncommon error, and in my case not an uncommon typo.


But that’s why we proof our stuff a few times, and why editors get a look at all of our copy before it goes to print.


(BTW, when I looked back over the above text I found where I’d originally typed  “was there intent.” See, it happens.)

This is the only edited sign that I saw at the park.

It is humorous, though, that the camera we’re supposed to be smiling for is pointing straight into the air.





Searching for Bigfoot in Arkansas?

Have an extra $500 and a few free days? Here’s an outing like none in Kansas.

It also probably offers the world’s worst success rate, too.


Of course this is considering that the guide has purchased the proper licenses.

Worst-case scenario, it’s one of the prettiest areas in the Ozarks.

I wonder if  such guided trips to find and photograph mountain lions would work in Kansas? Hey, at least we have proof we occasionally have the big cats.

Nah, it seems about half of Kansas has already seen them. :-)


“Death in the Long Grass” still a great read

Peter Hathaway Capstick’s “Death in the Long Grass” continues to be one of the true classics of written hunting tales. I just read it again, and loved it just as much as when it was first published in the late 1970s.

After a short but successful Wall Street career, Capstick headed to Africa where he worked for years as a professional hunter, taking visiting hunters from around the world on safaris. He was also hired to cull elephant herds in areas with over populations and was called in several times to handle a man-killing animal.

The book is basically about the dangers he faced or heard of from lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, elephant, hippos and poisonous snakes.

Hathaway, who died in 1996, was a gifted story teller and the book carries ample amounts of excitement and humor. The author also gives a good account of safari life and a realistic look at how nature really works in Africa.

He also makes it quite clear he had a fondness for a stiff drink after a hunt…deep fondness.

The book form of “Death in the Long Grass” is available on many online sites. I downloaded it to my Kindle.

One thing about it, I don’t think I’ll be complaining too much about being attacked by chiggers and ticks in Kansas!

Dust Bowl book a great read, especially this summer

I just read “The Worst Hard Time” again.

No, I understood it perfectly well the first time about three years ago. It just seemed much more relevant this summer with our on-going drought.

In the early 2000s Timothy Egan was wise enough to research and interview some who had survived the Dust Bowl. His book chronicles several families, beginning with what brought them to the area where Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado met and almost died together in the 1930s.

The book begins with the euphoria of getting free land in one of the last areas to be opened to homesteading in America in the early 1900s, then covers the combination of unusually high amounts of rain and record wheat prices.

The bulk of Egan’s book details what followed as the combination of the Dust Bowl and Great Depression settled over the area. Here just a few tidbits from the book -

- In 1935 850 million tons of topsoil blew from the southern plains. That was about 8 million tons were every U.S. resident.

-Through the Dust Bowl farmers lost about 480 tons of soil per acre.

-The resulting dust storms caused by farmed lands being open and a serious drought caused some dust storms to be up to 10,000 feet high and 200 miles wide.

-Some of the biggest storms blew far enough east to coat New York and the White House in thick layers of dust. Ships 200 miles out in the Atlantic reported being enveloped in the storms.

-The dust was so bad many animals suffocated or had their digestive tracts blocked by mud from dust they’d inhaled mixing with body liquids.

-The storms were so ferocious the sand blew hard enough to permanently blind people caught outdoors. Some storms so blocked the sun and were so thick people literally couldn’t see their hands in front of their faces in the middle of the day.

-Static electricity was often so bad people shaking hands would both be knocked to the ground. Cars often shorted-out from the electricity in the air.

-The toll on humans was horrendous. Many people died of what was called dust pneumonia. Some actually starved while others resorted to eating road-kills and canned tumbleweeds.

The Worst Hard Time focuses on the people who gutted it out from start to stop. First-hand accounts from people interviewed tell how hard things were and how hard so many worked to simply survive.

The book also details how then controversial conservation programs worked to help right the longtime wrong man in that region brought upon themselves by poor farming practices.

To me, at least, this was all more relevant because that region is currently in a drought the rivals the one of the 1930s.

CLICK HERE TO READ A RECENT STORY WRITTEN ABOUT THIS YEAR’S DROUGHT BY THE EAGLE’S BECCY TANNER. Be sure to check out her photos in the photo gallery with the article.

Egan’s idea to research the book before the last of the Dust Bowl survivors had passed was excellent and his writing is very good.

The Worst Hard Time is published by Houghton Mifflin. Sorry, I can’t give you a page length because I read it on a Kindle. It’s a sizable book but I’d loved for it to have been even longer.

Hard copies go for about $18.50. Soft copies and Kindle versions are about $8.75.

I’ll be heading out to buy some paperback versions. I can’t wait to share it with some friends.